Ed Banky's Car at Coogan's, 1996 | Photo by Courtney Lewis

Matt Riggle interview by Rick V.

May 11, 2023

Ed Banky’s Car were a pop punk band in the mid-’90s from Grand Prairie, Texas led by teenagers Bobby and Matt Riggle. They only existed for a couple of years and never traveled out of Texas. But their impact on the local punk scene was strong and their 1997 I Don’t Even Like Coffee... EP was in every kid’s box of 7”s. The band’s time was cut very short by Bobby dying in his sleep at the age of twenty by unknown causes.

I was not going to shows when Ed Banky’s Car was active. But for years I saw remnants of their stamp on the community via preserved bits of merch and show flyers drawn by Bobby Riggle displayed as centerpieces in punk house living rooms. Other than the 7”, their other recordings were coveted artifacts not-so-available on the internet.

This year, Something To Do Records out of Portland, Ore., released Meanwhile inGrand Prairie, Texas..., one of the long-lost Ed Banky’s Car recordings with the full blessing of Matt Riggle. Along with the LP,  Something To Do released a book put together by Riggle that attempts to document what was going on in the Dallas/Fort Worth pop punk scene during the mid-’90s. It features a whole slew of essays by folks from the era, and includes flyers and comics by the late Bobby Riggle. 

Matt Riggle has stayed busy with music since the abrupt end of Ed Banky’s Car. He’s still playing in bands and some of you folks saw Filmage, the 2013 Descendents documentary he co-directed. While talking with Matt, I realized this Ed Banky’s Car release and book were not so much about his old band but more about expressing the love he has for Bobby and preserving his brother’s work. 

Matt Riggle | Courtesy of Matt Riggle

Rick: I was at Laser Trax (A record store in Arlington, Texas) in 2000 and this kid comes in and announces to everyone in the store, “I’m moving and I just found my copy of the Ed Banky’s Car He’s Lame tape. Does anybody need to make a copy?” People lined up at the counter, bought blank cassette tapes, and we dubbed them in the back.

Matt: Oh wow.

Rick: That’s what a weird cult following Ed Banky’s Car had—and how everything has been unobtainable until now. Actually, those tapes are still unobtainable.

Matt: Well, if you hack into my Dropbox, you can get it there.

Rick: [laughs] There were two tapes, right? The tape this kid gave me was not technically the He’s Lame tape, because a friend of mine gave me an official copy years later and it had totally different songs. Does that make sense to you?

Matt: Yeah, that first one we really didn’t have a title for. A lot of people just called it The Blue Tape. But the He’s Lame tape was originally supposed to be called Meanwhile in Grand Prairie, Texas.... Bobby drew the cover on a piece of poster board that I have hanging up right next to me. It’s a huge drawing and in a regular font size he wrote “Meanwhile in Grand Prairie, Texas...” but when we shrunk it down, you couldn’t read it.

That was the first Ed Banky’s Car tape we did with our original drummer, Trey. We had a couple more after that. There was one called Hip and Pretty, and a lot of those songs are on this new one. Every couple of months we would get bored with our old tapes and Bobby would redraw the covers. We had a lot of the same songs on them.

Basement with Ed Banky's Car artwork by Matt Riggle

Rick: That explains it. I feel like I would’ve seen those circulating more, but I guess people held onto their copies. 

So, I never saw Ed Banky’s car, but it was always this band we referenced in the punk community, and Skunky Beaumont—my old band circa 2000—attempted to cover “Doubt,” which was a song I never heard at the time but our guitar player Dustin was obsessed. To me, Ed Banky’s Car was this mysterious band you’d see T-shirts of with that iconic 7” cover. I eventually got that record and rocked the shit out of it.

So, to the actual question: Was this mysterious cult status of your old band ever brought up or you just had no idea what was going on two cities over?

Matt: I’d say I had no idea. We were a band that started in ’93. We were called Uncle Jay back then, and that lasted till ’95. That’s when we changed our name. Then we were in our late teens switching from playing the all-ages DIY shows in a park to playing clubs and trying to get audiences outside of Grand Prairie. Grand Prairie and Arlington were the only places we would play. When Ed Banky’s Car released the 7” in ’96 we started playing in Dallas and Fort Worth, trying to be a “real band” or whatever. Our fan base kept tapering off and I think it was because we were playing farther and farther away from home. We certainly didn’t feel like the ground swelled. I don’t think it was people avoiding us. It was just harder to get your friends out, you know?

Ed Banky's Car, 1995

Rick: Going back to the “cult following” thing. I first started hearing about Ed Banky’s Car in 1998 or ’99, when I was a senior in high school, so it was a few years later. You would hear tales of this band that disappeared for… obvious reasons.

Matt: And of course, this is pre-internet, as far as any kind of internet a band could utilize. We did have our prodigy.net page back then. We had a mailing list, like literally where we would mail postcards and letters, just to invite people to shows and stuff. When the band then disappeared, as you put it, all my subsequent bands started putting stuff online, but Ed Banky’s Car never had any sort of online presence at all.

Rick: Would you believe we got super stoked in 2001 when—I think it was Daryl at Laser Tracks—who had a videotape of Ed Banky’s Car playing at CD Warehouse, and we had borrowed that and dubbed that for a couple of other people.

Matt: Oh, okay.

Rick: And now I have no idea where that tape is.

Matt: I would like to see that tape.

Rick: There were a lot of mohawk kids at the show, which was very funny for that time to have a bunch of mohawk kids at a very pop punk-style show. But that’s also when shows would have more musically diverse lineups. And that seems to be happening again, so that’s nice.

Other than playing Austin, did you guys ever tour?

Matt: That was really it. We would stretch as far as we could in the metroplex there around Dallas, but we would go back and forth from Austin.

Rick: From what I saw in that ten-minute video you sent me about Bobby, you were going there once a month.

Matt: We had a couple of different friends there who would set up shows for us. This band Tuesday Weld were really good friends with us and they moved from Keller out to Austin to go to school, so they would put us up in their dorm.

Rick: Nice. And back to some Bobby stuff, some sad Bobby stuff. On the first page of your book, you mention all the rumors surrounding Bobby’s death. I remember hearing some of those rumors. The thing that struck me in the book was you being harassed by a detective who insisted there were some drugs somewhere in Bobby’s room. What brought that on?

Matt: When a twenty-year-old kid drops dead, people suspect drugs, suicide, and that kind of thing. He just didn’t wake up one morning. He was living back at home with me and my parents. My mom called me frantically at about one o’clock. I rushed home and he was pronounced dead pretty much the minute we got to the hospital.

They couldn’t really tell us a reason—just sudden cardiac arrest—which, ultimately, is the way everybody dies, I suppose. I went back to the house with my sister and her husband while my parents were still at the hospital. There was a knock at the door and it was a detective. I can’t remember his name, I don’t remember anything, but I remember him coming in and he was literally sitting in my bedroom with me. I was dazed but when I came to, I just told him to get the fuck out.

Rick: Good!

Matt: He was just trying to ask me, “Where’d your brother keep his stash?” He was trying to be buddy-buddy. “Oh, hey man, you know, it’s cool. We all do drugs. Where’d your brother keep his?” You know, with kind of an attitude? And I kicked him out.

Rick: Yeah, that’s horrifying. I can’t believe they’d be harassing you the day of, in your own house. That’s gross.

Matt: And to be clear, there were no drugs. The autopsy report stated there were no drugs and no suicide. It remains a mystery what happened.

Rick: I remember talking to you around fifteen years ago at a show at 1919 Hemphill and asking if you would ever put out an Ed Banky’s Car discography. You said if you did, you would ultimately like to have a book about Bobby with his comics in it. That’s pretty much what the new version of Meanwhile in Grand Prairie, Texas... is.

So, when Matt Ostrom from Something To Do Records hit you up out of the blue, how did this whole process go down?

Ed Banky's Car, Meanwhile in Grand Prairie, Texas | Art by Bobby Riggle

Matt: It was very much outta the blue. It was January 2022. He just sent me a message on Facebook asking if I was in Ed Banky’s Car. I get messages maybe every couple of years where somebody will find me and ask about the band or about getting a 7” or something.

But this guy just laid it on me. “Hey, I found your record in Portland, Ore. at this record store and I’ve liked it for years. It’s one of my favorite 7”s.” He’d bought it based solely on Bobby’s cover art. He didn’t know anything about Bobby or the band.

We had a couple of phone conversations about it over the next couple of weeks and ended up hatching this idea of putting out a record and the book of all the drawings and flyers. From there it snowballed into an oral history where I talked to a bunch of my friends and people from back then who knew Bobby. A lot of people sent in essays and we compiled all that. Matthew was certainly the catalyst of it because it’s a project, as you point out, that’s been on my mind forever.

Bobby was so talented and so creative. He drew all the time and he really should have had his own zine. I think that would’ve been forthcoming with him at a certain point. I had this mound of his stuff and I never really knew how to put it out. I come from the world where I play in a band that just self-produces stuff all the time. Typically, you throw it out there, it thuds out into the universe, and then you move on.

With this, because it was a finite amount of his stuff, I didn’t want to just throw it out there with a thud on my own. So, Mathew’s energy from the outside coming into this project is really what lifted it and made me say, “Alright, cool. Let’s do this.”

That mess wasn't goingt to clean itself up | Art by Bobby Riggle

Rick: Mathew was totally down with putting out the book as well?

Matt: Oh yeah.

Rick: That’s awesome. Is the record legit unreleased stuff or is it songs from those other tapes, just sounding better?

Matt: There are a couple of unreleased songs, but, yeah, it’s a lot of stuff from those old tapes remixed. I’ve had that ADAT tape I’ve been carrying around the country with me and I finally put that to use.

Rick: When I first heard it, I realized how pleasant it sounded when it’s not a copy of a copy of a copy of the original tape.

Matt: Yeah, exactly.

Rick: I like it a lot. Other than this fellow Mathew, do you know of any other new Ed Banky’s Car fans popping up over the years?

Matt: Few and far between. There have been people who inherited the record somehow from their brother’s collection or something and there have been a couple of interesting stories like that. But mostly it’s people who remember the band and who said, “Oh, I used to have your cassette,” or “I used to have the record.” One guy said his dog literally ate the record. I sent ’em another one. It’s just people who just remembered. They go to look it up online and there’s nothing there. Eventually, you find me.

Ten years ago, I posted the song “Stare at the Sun,” because a friend of mine was writing this blog post about music from the ’90s in the Dallas area, and he was asking if that song was available. I found a copy of it and posted it on YouTube. From there I’d get people commenting or trickling in who remembered the band.

Rick: I did an experiment yesterday where I sent the Bandcamp link to the I Don’t Even Like Coffee...” 7” to a couple of friends, stating that this was one of my favorite things when I was seventeen. I wanted to know their opinion hearing it for the first time. One friend wrote, “Look, if I was seventeen this would be my favorite thing. As of now, it’s whatever. I get that feeling for how powerful this would’ve been in 1997.” One friend said like, “God bless those seventeen-year-old hormones that make things more important than they actually are.”

Matt:[laughs] I can get behind that. I was just talking about this with somebody yesterday. As you’re pointing out, when you’re a teenager playing music, and especially sloppy punk rock, you tend to look back on that stuff with a smile, maybe, if not just overtly embarrassed.

You look back and I see what I was trying to do. It’s always about moving on. You’re only as good as your latest thing, or whatever that saying is. You’re always moving forward and that’s the way I’ve always been.

With Ed Banky’s Car stuff, it’s not that I was embarrassed by it. I didn’t quite know how to present it to the world or anybody. It was always just this thing that was in the past and 41 Gorgeous Blocks (Matt’s off-and-on band of twenty-plus years with five records) is like that with me. I’m very proud of the band. The guys in that band have become family to me, but that band was my first attempt back into writing songs and music after Bobby died. It was a continuation—at least of my side of things—of Ed Banky’s Car, but with a very different mindset than I was when I was seventeen writing those songs.

41 Gorgeous Blocks was my therapy over the next decade. I’m not necessarily rushing to self-promote the band in any way you might think. Not that I don’t like it, but I’ve just always moved forward. That said, there is some movement on the 41 Gorgeous Blocks front later this year.

Rick: Ooh a little plug for the Razorcake readers.

Matt: A little mysterious plug, right?

Rick: Hey, this band you guys have never heard of. Check it out...

Matt: ...there might be something new.

[laughter]

Well I sorta know how you feel | Art by Bobby Riggle

Rick: The Bobby comics are fucking great. I’m glad I got to see them. The first thing I did is flip through the book and look at all the comics. Some are straight-up laugh-out-loud funny. The style of ’em are really good and the jokes are on par.

Matt: That’s awesome. Thanks, man.

Rick: Are there more Bobby comics tucked away somewhere?

Matt: There are some more. I didn’t exhaust it all in there. In the last couple months of his life, he had gotten pretty serious about making himself do a cartoon a night. That was his goal. No matter what, he’d come home at the end of the night—if he was working or playing a show or whatever—and he’d draw a cartoon. That’s why a lot of these are just penciled. He would just get the idea down and move on. He wanted to compile a lot of stuff. A lot of the ones in the book are the last ones he did. He does have a ton of stuff. He was a cartoonist for the school newspaper for four years, so there’s a lot of stuff he did there. I also have a bunch of his doodles.

Rick: I like it. You say in the book that the person from Something To Do Records... what’s his name?

Matt: Matthew Ostrom.

Ed Banky's Car, I Don’t Even Like Coffee front | Art by Bobby Riggle


Rick: Uh, I’m a wonderful interviewer. He said he first bought the I Don’t Even Like Coffee... 7” due to the great cover. The cover is one of the greatest 7” jokes ever. You’re like, “Why is this man announcing he doesn’t even like coffee? Oh, it’s because he’s robbing a beatnik on the back cover.”

Ed Banky's Car, I Don’t Even Like Coffee back | Art by Bobby Riggle

Matt: [laughs] I recalled this not that long ago; we were playing a show out in Keller at the Lion’s Club—or I can’t remember what it’s called—but Bobby got some coffee at the 7-Elevan next door. Bobby was working the merch table when this kid was looking at the 7”, and then looking at Bobby. He says, “I don’t get it. So you do like coffee?” Some people thought we were hardcore against coffee because of that record cover.

Ed Banky's Car at Coogan's, 1996 | Photo by Courtney Lewis

Rick: And that’s why you guys couldn’t get a show at Coogan’s Coffee (A place that had punk shows in the backyard) and they turned their noses up at you.

Matt: [laughs]

Rick: I got one more question regarding Ed Banky’s Car. My man, people love you for your lyrics. I feel like I always hear those lyrics wrong. How come on every Ed Banky’s Car release there’s no lyric sheet? Are you embarrassed or you just didn’t think about it?

Matt: Honestly, here’s probably what it is—one of the things Bobby really stood for was not taking yourself seriously, like at all, but at the same time having pride in your work, working really hard. The minute you’re seen taking yourself too seriously, it’s just a huge turnoff. I shared that feeling with him back then; the whole self-effacement of being in a band or any kind of art where you’re just like, “Look at me.” Because, obviously, that part of you is there. You want the attention but you also walk this fine line of, “Who gives a shit?” I’m just doing this for fun. On the insert for the 7”, it says, “For lyrics, get a life.”

Rick: Oh really?

Matt: Yeah. That was this thing we dashed off right before it went to print. We were thinking about putting the lyrics in there, but we couldn’t afford an extra panel. There’s no backside.

Rick: Is there a box of these 7”s at your house still?

Matt: There’s a dwindling box. I have about ten copies left. Matthew has a few more.

Rick: What’s funny is when I was younger, I had a very terrible recording of that 7” from my terrible turntable dubbed onto a cassette tape so I could listen to it in my car. I always thought the song “I’m Dumb” had the first line: “So you’re a vegan.” I don’t know why I always thought that. (It’s actually “Part of being diff-er-ent.”)

Matt: [laughs] Wow. Okay. That’s not it, but I like the interpretation. Bobby used to name a lot of our songs. My favorite title is a song called “Setting Myself on Fire.” He was good at turns of phrase in general. The song is called, “I’m Dumb,” and it doesn’t say that anywhere in the lyrics. The lyrics are “I’m not strong” over and over again. Bobby would sing it with me. When we got in the studio, he was doing his backup vocals and he was singing, “I’m not dumb.”

Rick: Yeah, that’s what I always thought it was.

Matt: We stopped recording and I said, “Hey, it’s not that. It’s ‘I’m not strong.’” He was like, “Oh. I thought that was weird because you’re dumb.” That’s just teenage brothers in the studio, and that’s what we named the song, “I’m Dumb.”

Rick: Not until I started reading the book did I realized he was the raspier vocal one. I always just thought it was you giving it a little more gruff.

Matt: Ha, no. I’m the choir boy.

Rick: [laughs] People will be mad if I don’t ask you anything about Filmage. It’s a very watchable documentary I’ve seen a couple of times. It was the first thing you and Deedle LaCour directed, right? You knocked it out of the park and then you’ve been dormant. Is there anything else you guys are working on?

Matt: Deedle and I are both editors. We do stuff all the time. That was our first personal project we did with James Rayburn and Justin Wilson. The four of us put Filmage together. It’s one of those things that took a long time to do and was fun. It was all the emotions, you know what I mean? It was quite a whirlwind of three years putting that all together. We just haven’t been rushing back to that particular way of working. A subject really has to knock you out enough to go, “Okay, I’m gonna dedicate the next three years of my life to this.”

That said, I actually do have a movie I’m finishing up about Scott Reynolds, who is one of the singers of ALL. Scott lives up outside Buffalo. At the end of 2020, when you could get COVID from a gas pump, I traveled up to Buffalo and spent a few days with Scott. I shot a bunch of interviews walking around Fredonia, the city he lives in. He also did a live performance to nobody in this bar. It’s really cool. It’s a performance movie with documentary stuff in between songs. It’s called Chihuahua in Buffalo, and that’s coming later this year.

Rick: I saw that listed somewhere and thought it was a joke.

Matt: [laughs] That’s actually the name of one of his latest solo albums, Chihuahua in Buffalo. I stole the name ’cause I like the title.

Rick: What are you working on musically?

Matt: I’ve been trying to write songs, like always. I have a band here in Philadelphia called This Kills MeWe’ve been pretty stagnant since the pandemic. We released an album right before that and haven’t done a whole lot. I do a lot of live streams on my Instagram [laughs]. It’s been a while because I’ve been sick. I try to get back to doing that every other week or so. I just play songs, talk to my friends on there, and that’s what I’ve been doing most the last couple of years. 41 Gorgeous Blocks played a couple of shows and, as I said, there’s a very mysterious thing that might be happening.

41 Gorgeous Blocks at Good Records | photo by Rochelle Mitsakos

Rick: And 41 Gorgeous Blocks recently played the record release show doing Ed Banky’s Car songs.

Matt: Yeah, that’ll be on my YouTube channel. It was us and a bunch of bands from that era, our friends’ bands: Kid Tested, Fido’s Revenge, The Indigents, and The Fits. We all played little short sets. It’s about an hour and a half of music. That video is gonna be on there along with a ten-minute documentary about Bobby.

Rick: I watched it earlier. It’s good. And eye-opening info about your cult-status punk rock band from a small suburb.

Matt: [laughs] Cool man. Well, thank you.

Bobby Riggle's Grave | Photo courtesy of Matt Riggle

Mattriggle.com

https://somethingtodorecords.com/

//

Rick V. mostly draws comics. Itsmerickv.com

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